Being a Problem Teacher

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I’m used to worrying about details and treating a class meeting a bit like a performance. Working in theme parks for a number of years enforced a sense of being “show ready” for seamless presentations and for hiding the “behind the scenes” work. That mentality conflicts with critical pedagogy’s call to empower students and help them escape oppression. A few minor logistical exercises in my class have reminded me of the importance of backing off and letting students work to solve their own problems.

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Breaking Things: The Syllabus

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This semester, my goal is to break things. As much as possible, really. I’m trying to see what makes the first-year writing courses at my institution break, how far they bend before they do, and what gives way first. I’m also trying to see whether critical pedagogy can be applied to the framework of these courses as I myself try to learn about critical pedagogy, both in practice (through my classes) and in theory (through my work with Hybrid Pedagogy).

On the first day of class, I set out to break the syllabus.

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Publishing Student Work

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In my Intro to Research classes, I wanted to find a way to make student work mean more than just a paper on a desk at the end of the semester. As I went through the process of submitting a paper for print publication for the first time, I recognized that the experience was one my students should experience early and often. I decided to create a publication for my students’ research papers. It was extremely limited in scope, but it would be a publication.
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Questioning our Assumptions About Technology

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I had some delightful conversations with my students last week: my students decided that my class is racist, that our course outcomes are insensitive, and that technology is at the heart of both problems.

Yes, I’m overstating the problems just a bit, but the absurdity of the simplification that concluded the conversation and created the above statement helped focus the students on the issue at hand: they need to be critical of technology in classrooms.

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Bad for Badging: Achievement in Writing Courses

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There’s a badge for people who avoid badges. It was created, somewhat as a joke, by Kelvin Thompson, Associate Director of the Center for Distributed Learning at the University of Central Florida. He created the badge in response to a Twitter conversation from skeptics of the current badging fad. Count me among that group’s supporters. I’ll go a step further and say I think the badging movement is antithetical to effective writing instruction.
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The Terminology of Research

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When academics say “research”, what do we mean? Do our students know? And how do expectations for research differ from expectations in high school?

I recently discovered that terminology causes more trouble than I had thought when helping students understand what’s expected out of their work in my introduction to research courses. In this post, I work through the terminology of research to discuss how studies and experiments differ, and why we might use one over the other in different situations.

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